Set up in 1984 by Antoni Tàpies himself as a museum as well as a centre for studies, conservation and cultural awareness, the Fundació Antoni Tàpies (in English Antoni Tàpies Foundation) was officially inaugurated in 1990.
Located in the heart of the Eixample district of Barcelona, between two of the most well-known and frequented streets in the city, the Passeig de Gràcia and the Rambla de Catalunya, the Fundación Antoni Tàpies is housed in a magnificent modernist building from the end of the 19th century, a work of the architect Lluís Domènech i Muntaner.
The building was renovated in 2008, and was inaugurated once again two years later in the presence of Antoni Tàpies. This was to be one of his last public appearances before his death in 2012. Thanks to the renovation, the exhibition rooms and the library spaces were improved, and the building was given some of the necessary adaptations that were specific to a foundation of this nature.
The 300 works that are housed in the Foundation’s museum make it one of the most important and impressive collections of Antoni Tàpies’ work in the world. Apart from a handful of exceptions, the Foundation is nearly entirely made up of works that were donated by the artist himself, and by his wife.
The range of works exhibited is very wide, and they were carried out using a variety of techniques and materials. The items range from prints, drawings, sculptures and paintings and cover all periods of the artist’s work, from the early works of the 1940s to his most recent work, which even include some works from the start of the 20th century. Major well-known works are included from throughout his artistic life.
The visit to the Fundación Antoni Tàpies
You could say that the visit to the Fundación Antoni Tàpies starts before you even enter the building, because at the top of its façade you’ll be able to see one of the artist’s greatest sculptures, Núvol i Cadira (‘Cloud and Chair’).
The museum has four floors and the recommendation is to start on Floor -2. On Floor -1 one of the highlights is the open space, in which the idea was not to fill it with too many works, so that each work that is on display really attracts the visitor’s attention. On the first floor you’ll find the magnificent library, which has around 50,000 books relating to modern and contemporary art, and in whose entrance you’ll be welcomed by various works by Antoni Tàpies.
We’d also like to point out the small terrace on the second floor, which you can access from the lift on Floor -1. This is where you’ll find El Mitjó (‘The Sock’), one of Tapiès’s most striking works. It’s a huge sculpture, but in spite of the fact the initial design was supposed to be 18 metres in height, and that it would be possible for people to actually go inside it, in the end the size was reduced to just 2.85 metres, which would of course make it impossible to enter! Even so, this striking sock is still one of the most controversial works by Antoni Tàpies.
Major works by Antoni Tàpies that can be found in the Foundation
Creu de paper de diari, 1946-1947 / Newsprint Cross
Porta metàl·lica i violí, 1956 / Metal door and violin
Forma negra sobre quadrat gris, 1960 / Black Form on Grey Square
Matèria en forma de peu, 1965 / Matter in the Form of a Foot
Palla i fusta, 1969 / Straw and Wood
Núvol i cadira, 1990 / Cloud and Chair
Before leaving the museum you’ll come across the gift shop, which is just inside the entrance, and you will of course be able to find all sorts of objects and souvenirs connected with the work of Tàpies, as well as many books about art, especially that of modern and contemporary art.
Temporary exhibitions and activities
In addition to the permanent collection, temporary exhibitions are also organised, and in many cases these are connected with Antoni Tàpies’ work. Some, however, don’t have direct relevance to the great artist, but they do all have art as the common thread. Various activities serve to complement the existing work of the Foundation, many of which are aimed at schools, with the clear educational objective of introducing the youngest visitors to the world of art. These activities aren’t the only activities that are organised, however, and you’ll also be able to enjoy events and activities that are more orientated towards adults, making the Foundation an ideal place to visit for the entire family.
The work of Tàpies in Barcelona
Fortunately, Tàpies’ work isn’t just to be found inside his foundation, and some of his works are also displayed throughout the city, in some cases outside. You can visit many of them at your leisure, but as some are within institutional buildings it’s sometimes a little more tricky to see them. In order to get to know all of these works by Tàpies, the Foundation organises various guided tours.
Works by Antoni Tàpies throughout Barcelona
7 de novembre, 1971 / 7th November
(Parlament de Catalunya / Catalunya’s parliament building)
Monument Homenatge a Picasso, 1983 / The Homage to Picasso Monument
Les quatre cròniques, 1990 / The Four Chronicles
(Sala Tarradellas Palau de la Generalitat)
Sala de reflexió, 1996 / Room of Reflection
(Universitat Pompeu Fabra)
Complement, 1999 / Complement
(Building Fòrum de Barcelona)
We don’t want to mislead anyone, so we should point out that the work of Antoni Tàpies is very personal and unusual, and isn’t necessarily to everyone’s taste. It tends to fascinate the most hard-core lovers of avant-garde art, but can provoke negative or critical reactions in visitors who have different tastes.
c/ (street) Aragó 255, Barcelona.
From Tuesday to Sunday: 10:00 to 19:00.
Closed: Mondays, 25th December, 1st and 6th January.
Concessions: €5.60 for accredited students and the over-65s. There are also discounts for groups of more than 15 people, but for this you will need to make a prior reservation.
Free entry: children under 16 years, for the accredited unemployed and for Friends of the Foundation.
How to get there?
Metro: Passeig de Gràcia (Lines 1, 2, 3 and 4), with Line 3 being closest, and Diagonal (Lines 3 and 5).
Bus: Lines 7, 20, 22, 24, 39, 35, 67, 68, H10, V15, V17 and tourist bus.
Renfe: Passeig de Gràcia.
By foot: You can walk up the Passeig de Gràcia or the Rambla de Catalunya from the Plaça de Catalunya to reach the Foundation on foot.